9-foot joystick earns spot in ‘Guinness World Records 2022′ book

HANOVER, N.H. — It is a dream piece for a retro video gamer -- a 9-foot joystick modeled in the classic style of Atari games of the 1980s.

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Mary Flanagan, a professor at Dartmouth College, created the joystick out of wood, rubber and steel, and her piece of artwork has now earned a spot in the Guinness World Records 2022 edition as the largest, according to a news release from the school.

The joystick is nearly 14 times the size of an original Atari 2600 controller and weighs 3,000 pounds, according to Guinness. The original CX40 Atari controller measures 5 inches tall, according to the website.

It is the perfect item to accompany a copy of the 1980 novelty song “Space Invaders” by Uncle Vic, which had the refrain, “He’s hooked, he’s hooked, his brain is cooked.”

“Space Invaders,” “Centipede,” “Asteroids,” “Pac-Man” and “Breakout” were some of the games that employed the Atari joystick.

Flanagan created the giant controller in 2006 to celebrate her childhood experience of “maniacally” playing Atari 2600 video games, Dartmouth said in its release.

She wanted to find out what happens when a single-player experience becomes collaborative, the website states. Flanagan’s creation requires at least two people to operate the joystick and push its button.

“To have this common pop culture artifact just erupt in the middle of a space and allow people to play something familiar, yet not familiar, was exciting,” Flanagan said in a statement. “Games can be universal and provide people with an opportunity to connect in novel ways.”

The joystick, which has been displayed in Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States, is now part of the permanent collection of ZKM Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany, Dartmouth College said.